Researcher investigating post cycle therapy (PCT) and hormone restoration may be interested in learning about the best HCG alternatives.
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) is commonly employed as part of post cycle therapy, for diagnostic purposes, or as a therapy for patients with conditions like hypogonadal hypogonadism and infertility.
Yet, certain research peptides may be valuable alternatives to hCG, with potential benefits including things like:
- Quick action and results
- Ease of use
- Low risk of adverse reactions
In this article, we will break down the most reliable research peptides that can exert similar effects to hCG and outline how these may be used in experimental settings.
We’ll also shout out our go-to vendor for research peptides and reference materials that will ensure the success of research.
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What is HCG?
Human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), is a dimeric glycoprotein hormone, meaning that it consists of two subunits, alpha and beta, each consisting of numerous amino acids and various carbohydrate entities .
Whereas the alpha subunit of hCG consists of 92 amino acids and is identical to the alpha subunit of luteinizing hormone (LH), follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), the beta subunit is 145 residues long and is unique to hCG.
Consequently, researchers may have heard the term β-hCG, the antigen measured in pregnancy testing and in testing to check how well early pregnancy is advancing, because this is the immunologically distinct part of the hormone .
Although produced primarily by the placenta in pregnant women, as it plays a major role in embryonic and fetal development, hCG also is produced in the gonads of adult men and non-pregnant women, albeit in lesser amounts than placental hCG [2, 3, 4].
Because of its alpha subunit, hCG mimics LH, which helps to stimulate the function of the reproductive organs in both men and women. Consequently, injected exogenous hCG holds significant therapeutic potential and consequently has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for several medical conditions, including:
- Prepubertal cryptorchidism, unrelated to anatomical abnormalities 
- Male hypogonadism results from a pituitary deficiency in men 
- Induction of ovulation in women undergoing assisted reproduction 
hCG is available by prescription only and is sold under various brand names, including Novarel, Ovidrel, and Pregnyl .
Benefits of HCG
As noted earlier, one benefit of hCG is an ability to mimic the function of the LH, a hormone produced by the anterior pituitary that plays a major role in regulating the function of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis.
In the HPG axis, the hypothalamus secretes gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH), which in turn stimulates the pituitary gland to release both FSH and LH, which then regulate the function of the gonads (testes and ovaries).
By mimicking the function of LH, hCG can stimulate the testes in men and ovaries in women, which is especially valuable in conditions such as:
- Suppressed testicular function and temporary infertility in men due to exogenous factors such as testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) or the use of androgenic-anabolic steroids (AAS). Studies report that taking 3,000U of hCG every other day with or without other medication can significantly speed up the recovery of normal testicular function and sperm production following steroid use, with most men recovering within 4-5 months .
- Pituitary dysfunction and lack of LH synthesis lead to hypogonadism and infertility. Men will also experience low testosterone and infertility, while women will lack ovulation and menstruation. Studies report that hCG can lead to similar benefits as TRT in men with hypogonadotropic hypogonadism while preserving fertility and testicular function .
- Ovulation induction during assisted reproduction technology (ART), such as in vitro fertilization (IVF). According to one trial, hCG led to successful ovulation in 91.4% of the women undergoing ART, and the clinical pregnancy rate following the therapy was 24.7% .
Now that we have discussed a few documented benefits and uses of hCG, let’s look into the world of research peptides to see if there may be any alternatives.
What Are Research Peptides?
Research peptides are peptides that are not yet approved for clinical use, yet are under investigation for their potential therapeutic roles. Peptides are molecules consisting of amino acids linked series by peptide bonds, an amide type of covalent bond.
The word peptide applies both to the amide bond linking the amine group of an amino acid to the carboxyl group of the neighboring amino acid, but also to any protein consisting of just one peptide chain of small size. Generally, this means no more than 40 or 50 residues, but the term is arbitrary [12, 13].
As with larger proteins, peptides may consist only of amino acids, or they may have attached lipid or carbohydrate entities. Consequently, the beta subunit of hCG by itself, β-hCG, is a peptide, specifically a glycopeptide.
Peptides have varied roles in the body, including but not limited to :
- Messengers that transmit signals between cells, tissues, and organs.
- Hormones that regulate essential physiological processes such as growth, metabolism, and recovery.
- Antibodies that exert immune functions and protect the body against pathogens.
The diverse functions of peptides and their adaptability make them promising candidates for drug development. Their broad range of potential applications makes them an exciting field of scientific exploration with significant implications for human health .
Hundreds of compounds are under active investigation for their potential benefits and are thus termed “research peptides.” Dozens of those have already successfully passed phase-3 clinical trials and are currently available as prescription medications for various conditions .
Why are HCG Alternatives Beneficial?
Non-hCG peptides offer an alternative to exogenous hCG for applications that include ovulation induction and treatment of hypogonadism. Moreover, peptides are a reliable form of post cycle therapy (PCT) following the use of anabolic-androgenic steroids (AAS) or testosterone replacement therapy (TRT).
PCT is essential for faster recovery of the physiological testosterone production and fertility following AAS and TRT. That's because interventions involving exogenous androgens have a negative effect on the HPG axis and disturb its normal function.
Exogenous male hormones (and the potential concomitant increase in estrogens) act as a negative feedback signal to the pituitary gland and suppress the production of LH and FSH. As a result, the function of the testes starts shutting down, resulting in low T levels and infertility.
Although research suggests that this effect is usually temporary, even after prolonged TRT use, the recovery process and return of fertility may take up to 24 months. Therefore, PCT therapy using hCG or hCG alternatives can help speed up the process.
Several peptides, which mimic the function of GnRH or regulate its release, may influence the function of the HPG axis and help speed up the recovery of normal LH, FSH, and testosterone synthesis in men with a history of AAS use or TRT.
In fact, most peptides influencing the HPG axis are highly effective after a single administration, as they stimulate the release of both LH and FSH. This is in contrast to hCG, which sometimes must be administered alongside other medications, such as FSH, to maximize its effects .
Peptides which offer an alternative to hCG therapy include compounds such as:
These peptides are highly effective hCG alternatives for PCT, ovulation induction, and even the treatment of low testosterone and infertility due to hypogonadotropic hypogonadism.
What is common among these peptides is that they mimic or stimulate the release of GnRH, and their effectiveness depends on the sensitivity of the GnRH receptors.
Repeated administration at high doses of these peptides can lead to desensitization of the GnRH receptors, turning them unresponsive to either the peptide or naturally produced GnRH. Ultimately, this can itself suppress the HPG axis and can lead to low testosterone .
Thus, while a single dose of the aforementioned peptides upregulates the HPG axis, restores fertility, and boosts testosterone levels, repeated administration at high doses may have the opposite effect.
Best HCG Alternatives
Below are the best peptides that are currently investigated as valuable alternatives to hCG for PCT and increasing testosterone.
Kisspeptin-10 is a naturally occurring hormone with a peptide structure of 10 amino acids. It is one of the active fragments of the kisspeptin protein, which is produced in the hypothalamus and controls GnRH secretion [17, 18, 19].
By regulating the pulsatile secretion of GnRH, kisspeptins such as kisspeptin-10 also influence the function of the whole HPG axis, including LH and FSH release, as well as the production of testosterone in the testes (and estrogen in the ovaries) [18, 20].
Here is what researchers must know about this peptide:
- Kisspeptin-10 interacts with the HPG axis and stimulates the release of GnRH after a single infusion. A study involving healthy males indicated that the continuous infusion of kisspeptin-10 for 23 hours led to a significant increase in average serum testosterone levels, from an average of 479ng/dl to 692ng/dl .
- Kispeptin-10 can be successfully administered in research settings as a subcutaneous injection. Yet, it's unclear if the peptide passes through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to the hypothalamus to exert its effects or interact with GnRH neuron dendritic terminals outside the BBB [22, 23].
- Repeated administration of kisspeptin-10 may lead to receptor desensitization and reduced effectiveness of the peptide. In fact, the desensitization may lead to reduced responsiveness to the naturally occurring kisspeptins and reduced HPG axis activity. Studies in women receiving another kisspeptin analog, kisspeptin-54, report desensitization with bi-weekly and twice-daily administration .
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Gonadorelin is a peptide that is 100% homologous to GnRH and is physiologically produced in the hypothalamus .
In clinical settings, it has been used in the following ways:
- Pulsatile gonadorelin pump (PGP) for therapy in individuals with hypothalamic dysfunction and GnRH deficiency. The PGP delivers around 5-20mcg every 90 minutes and helps restore fertility in both male and female test subjects .
- Single injection for diagnostic purposes helps evaluate the pituitary gland's function and whether it responds to GnRH stimuli with LH and FSH release.
Studies have also successfully employed the peptide for restoring normal pituitary and testicular function in some men with reduced gonadal function. For example, a trial in 26 subjects, half of whom had former androgen use (FAU) and the other half consisting of 5 men with idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH), revealed that a single 100mcg gonadorelin injection can double LH levels. Results were encouraging in the IHH group. Despite the rise in LH levels, however, the men with FAU, even those with an LH rise, did not achieve a significant rise in mean testosterone levels .
Various case studies also have documented the sometimes irreversible consequences of long time anabolic steroid use .
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Triptorelin is a GnRH analog that has improved stability and affinity to the GnRH receptors .
Researchers should note that the peptide initially stimulates the pituitary gland to produce more LH and FSH, while repetitive administration at high doses leads to the opposite effect and suppresses the HPG axis.
Triptorelin is FDA-approved for long-term use as a GnRH desensitizing agent in several indications, such as prostate cancer and precocious puberty. In these indications, repeated triptorelin administration suppresses the HPG axis and helps manage symptoms [29, 30].
Yet, the peptide has also been successfully used in research settings for a range of other indications, including PCT. Here is a short summary of the most notable trials:
- A trial directly compared the effects of hCG vs. triptorelin for ovulation induction in 197 infertile women undergoing a form of ART called intrauterine insemination (IUI). Both compounds were highly effective at inducing ovulation (87.3% and 91.4%, respectively). After adjusting for body weight and infertility duration, the peptides were equally effective in eventually leading to clinical pregnancy .
- Triptorelin has been successfully employed for testing the function of the HPG axis and diagnosing precocious puberty after a single injection of up to 100mcg .
- One case study involved a 34-year-old male with significantly suppressed pituitary function and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism due to the chronic use of AAS. A single 100mcg injection of triptorelin led to an immediate increase in LH and FSH levels, and the test subject achieved normal gonadotropin and testosterone levels within a month of the intervention .
Where to Buy the Best HCG Alternatives?
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Below, we provide evidence-based answers to some of the most common questions among researchers investigating hCG alternatives.
What is the alternative to HCG?
Peptides such as gonadorelin and other GnRH mimetics offer a highly effective alternative to hCG in a range of settings, including post cycle therapy for men looking to pause TRT or anabolic steroid use. In addition, GnRH agonists can also rival hCG for ovulation induction and hypogonadism treatment.
Is there an HCG pill?
Similar to peptides, hCG is a glycoprotein made of amino acids. This structure is highly sensitive to peptidases in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, hCG is easily destroyed in the digestive system and can be administered effectively and reliably only via injections.
How does HCG work?
hCG mimics the function of the luteinizing hormone (LH), which is one of the two gonadotropic hormones produced by the pituitary gland under physiological conditions. As a result, it can stimulate the function of the testes in men and ovaries in women. The peptides we mentioned above can stimulate the release of LH and FSH by the pituitary gland, representing valuable alternatives to hCG therapy.
HCG Alternatives | Verdict
Several peptides have been shown to act as effective hCG alternatives for post cycle therapy, ovulation induction, hypogonadism treatment, and more. The most notable compounds are:
These peptides have been shown by research to stimulate an increase in LH, FSH, and testosterone levels in men, in addition to being shown to speed up the recovery of physiological testosterone production following steroid use.